Thanks, Allar! Good luck with your new project!
Who just carries around $250.000 worth of files on a portable hardrive without any backups.. The bug is stupid, but this guy is a moron.
Michael Allar here. Thanks a bunch for posting this, I really appreciate it. I'm also the guy who wrote that Confessions article that was posted here on 80.lvl as well.
At E3 we caught up with James Petruzzi, the founder of Discord Games and the director of Chasm. It’s a Platform Adventure title that is currently in development. In this exclusive interview, he tells us about the game and the development process.
We’ve been around since 2011 and we did a couple of small games on Xbox Live Indie Games just as a side hobby. In 2013, we did a Kickstarter for Chasm and I ended up going full-time after that. For the last two years, I’ve served as director for Chasm and we’ve been doing our best to get it done.
We have a small team, there’s five of us total – two artists, myself as gameplay design, a programmer, and a sound guy. We have a really small team, spread out all throughout the United States and we also have animators in Brazil. This creates some challenges, but we try to meet up regularly once a week to catch up. I try to talk to everybody everyday and make sure we are all on the same page to move forward. It helps that we have a small team size when it comes to managing a project like this, so having our team spread out isn’t too bad.
We only have one animator for instance, so I don’t have to try to juggle things between multiple animators. Having one person per job really simplifies things. Other than that it’s just trying to keep everyone up-to-date.
We came up with the name Chasm because it ties into the story (I can’t give away too much) and there’s an actual chasm in the game – it’s in the mines which is the first area of the game. So these miners discovered something underground which ties into the game later. The plot of the game is you figuring out why did all the people of this town disappear?
You find a lot of cave paintings in the game from this ancient civilization that disappeared and you can kind of piece together what they knew and what other people knew (archeologists have been exploring the place as well).
It’s kind of on you to put together the backstory of the game. Nothing is forced and there are no scripted sequences that spell it out to you. So if you want to know the lore you can dig deep and figure it out for yourself, otherwise you can just play it as an action game.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games of all time. I played it endlessly. I wanted something kind of like that, but I also wanted to bring something new to it.
The original spark for this game was actually when I was playing Symphony of the Night (probably for the 10th time) and I busted a lantern in the game and a heart fell out. I saw that and I was thinking that it is always that. You always go to that room, you always break that, and it’s always the same thing dropping out of it. So I was thinking, what if the room orders were kind of mixed up? Or what if things dropped differently?
What kind of became the unique point of the game, is that Chasm features procedural generation. So every time you start a new game, things are going to laid out differently. We hand design each of these rooms, but the way that they are connected and the way that they get you where you need to go is going to be different every time you start a new game.
You could watch somebody play the whole game on Twitch, but it’s not going to be the same experience you’re going to have when you play it.
We also definitely have a lot of Mega Man influence, even Zelda (that’s one of our favorite games). The combat and exploration of Symphony of the Night was kind of the core influence for Chasm.
It’s kind of cool, when you’re making a new IP you can do whatever you want. We kind of grabbed from all of the games we’ve loved as kids and mashed them all together to create something that hopefully feels new and fresh while at the same time you can recall all the influences.
Tools and Engine to Build Chasm
We started in XNA. We were originally planning on going onto Xbox 360 and PC and then Microsoft pretty much canned XNA. However, some guys in the open source community put together MonoGame which has kind of taken its place now, so now we are strictly working in MonoGame.
It’s great because has the benefit of being OpenGL and it’s much more cross-platform capable than XNA was.
We’ll have the game on PS4, Windows, Mac, and Linux when the game launches.
Obstacles of Development
Figuring out how procedural generation would tie into the world, how it’s put together and making sure it’s an experience that feels like a classic adventure and not just a hodgepodge of random things put together.
There wasn’t a lot for us to look at that had done something similar. There was a few things out there that were similar, but we didn’t feel that it was close to the classic adventure experience that we were looking for – where we really felt like the game was building on itself.
Trying to figure out how to put the world together, how to pace the experience, and making sure the difficulty levels are correct for the player was by far the hardest challenge of everything so far.